This week in the Leatherby Librarians at Home blog series, Special Collections and Archives Librarian Rand Boyd talks about his favorite online resources for both his own work and students, and catches us up on his newly-rekindled love for Dashiell Hammett.
1. What has been the most challenging aspect for you of working from home so far, and how did you overcome it?
I would say that it has been changing my workflow. When I am cataloging a rare book, I use a variety of online and physical resources. I left most of my physical references in the office (you never think about them until you need them!), which means that I have had to be a bit more creative in finding answers. Luckily some of the most important resources are already online, such as the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC) and the Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books ) (DCRM(B)); for other problems I will sometimes look up an older title that I have cataloged previously and that I know is similar. I can usually work out an answer that way.
2. What is your favorite remote resource for students and/or faculty?
Well, that’s easy. JSTOR is such a great resource for students in the Humanities. It is great for scholarly articles, but also contains quite a bit of primary sources. It has a wonderful early 19th century pamphlet collection. Pamphlets are a great primary source that often gets overlooked.
3. What book(s) have you been reading recently?
I am currently reading The Dain Curse by Dashiell Hammett. I had read The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest years ago and while watching The Thin Man on TMC a few weeks ago I got the Hammett bug again and picked up a Hammett collection.
4. What is the most interesting change you’ve made to how you do your job in the past few weeks?
That would probably be the heavy use of Zoom and Microsoft Teams. I kind of like Teams with its ability to share and work on documents. I use Zoom in my teaching and I am still getting the hang of that. I just recently used break out rooms and I was delighted at how well they worked.
5. What is your number one piece of advice for students learning remotely and/or faculty teaching remotely right now?
Stay flexible. One of my big challenges was converting classroom exercises to online exercises. Sometimes you don’t get the same results online as you do when you are in the classroom; initially I found that a bit frustrating, but I just learned to go with the flow of the class and that has helped quite a bit.